Sun 22 Jul 2012
Anchored in Newport, RI
[photo: Diane (left) and Sharon on our bike ride through Bristol]
Diane stayed up later than Duane last night, but both slept wonderfully in the cool air. The day dawned mostly clear with gorgeous white "mare's tails" (cirrus clouds) in the bright blue sky. After a leisurely hour or so, Duane warmed up the engine and then changed the oil and filter. We both cleaned ourselves up and then took the bikes in the dinghy to the public dock. From there we rode the several blocks to Dan and Sharon's lovely home for a delicious brunch of egg casserole, bagels, and fresh fruit.
Next, we loaded our folded bikes into the rear compartment of their SUV and they stowed their "grown up" bikes on the tail rack. Dan drove N to Bristol where we used the very nice, and quite active, bike trail to ride about 10 miles roundtrip. It was all flat and easy enough, but on the way back the S wind was blowing rather strongly in our face. Their cute dog, Maggie, accompanied us in the padded milk crate attached to Dan's rear carrier.
Once back at their place, we came back to the dinghy with our bikes and got home to Diva Di. We stowed the bikes away for the rest of this visit. Tomorrow will be a few errands and then off Tue for Block Island.
After a little rest, we got dressed for dinner and went back in the dinghy, then walked to their home for cocktails. We then drove the short distance to a fantastic gourmet Mexican restaurant. Our collective belief is that you would likely never find most of the dishes served in Mexico, but they were definitely of that origin, with a delicious, gourmet flair.
Newport has much history, of course, and this restaurant was once the home of famous American naval hero, Stephen Decatur.
Back at Dan and Sharon's home, we had a nightcap along with our many varied conversations and then they dropped us off at the dinghy to get back to Diva Di and our long-abandoned cat, Clyde.
Sat 21 Jul 2012
Anchored in Newport, RI
The evening was blissfully quiet and restful. We didn't get going until 0800 and then had a spirited motor-sail with the wind on our starboard quarter and rather large swells pushing us along as well. The waves and swells were larger than usual because we the wind was against the current, but we made better speed than I anticipated for most of the way.
One of the great things about having audio books available is that you can listen to them while having to hand-steer the boat. Letting the autopilot do the work was not acceptable as the large following waves kept slewing us mightily off our course. There were many other pleasure vessels in view under the pretty clear skies, and as we neared Narragansett Bay south of Newport, we saw several different sailboat races being held.
The only time we had slower than normal speed was going up the bay; it was hard to maintain 4 knots with a strong current and some wind against us. We arrived at the anchorage just NE of the northern tip of Goat Island and found a great hole in the anchorage where a boat had just left. We are a very safe distance from all around us and the holding is great here.
We made the leftover piece of flat iron steak into open-faced steak sandwiches using some onion and pepper and it was yummy. We rested for a while and then got the dinghy down to take to the nearby public dock where we met with Dan and Sharon.
They have been hardly devoid of company since they got back from their 2 month cruise to the Bahamas (on their own boat) and then packed up the Punta Gorda home to come up here, at which time Dan's children and their significant others arrived for a visit. We briefly visited during that time a few weeks ago and once the family left, Dan and Sharon went with other friends up to Gloucester, MA. They are just recently back home in time to entertain us. Whew!
There was an aborted attempt to take a car ride on Ocean Drive, but the tourist traffic was bumper-to-bumper, so we turned around and started happy hour. During that time, Dan trimmed half of a beef tenderloin and Sharon got all the vegetables and salad ready. The meat was grilled to perfection and all the accompaniments were equally delicious.
We declined their invitation to stay over as that would involve leaving Diva Di at anchor unattended, our dinghy at a public dock overnight, and Clyde all alone. It is best if we plan to retire to our boat by dark anyway and let them enjoy some time alone for a change.
Tomorrow morning, Duane plans to change the engine oil and then there is a bike ride planned in Bristol.
Fri 20 Jul 2012
On mooring at Cuttyhunk, MA
[photo: sunset after a rainy day]
We already covered the horrible rolling in the swell all night, but the fact is it continued through the morning, and even picked up with the wind. We desperately wanted to get away from it, but we just couldn't realistically transit the canal against the current. We did leave at 1125, earlier than planned, and had uncomfortable going for only 30 minutes until we got inside the canal. There, the waves were generally absent, except for a few large boat wakes.
The two independent sources I had for current predictions underestimated the current we had (in our favor), so we were soon zipping along at well over 8 knots and reached over 10 knots briefly. What wind there was could not help us further, but the fair current was doing fine on its own. Even after exiting the canal, the SW current in Buzzards Bay (still never saw a buzzard) helped us along for most of the straight run to Cuttyhunk Island.
As I told Diane, the positive was that we were safe, free of the nasty rolling, and making good time to our destination. The negatives were the solid overcast, frequent drizzle, relatively cold temperatures, and frustrating wind that we never could get to use. You don't get to pick the weather and this was no exception.
Feeling good about all the boat problems that have been fixed was probably a misplaced emotion. I noticed once underway that the nut securing the steering wheel was loose, so Diane got the wrench for me. When I started to torque it down, it went tight, but then kept turning with some resistance. I realized this was not right, so I stopped and discovered that the circlip had broken and was now being mashed between the wheel hub and the shaft groove. It seems fine for now, but I need to look carefully at that in Newport.
We arrived in Cuttyhunk about 1630 after just over 5 hours running and 38 statute miles. There were still a few mooring balls left in the inner harbor and we took one. It is very possible that we would have been comfortable at anchor in the outer harbor, but after last night we were taking no chances.
When we were here last time a few weeks ago, we got to enjoy the beach, take a long hike, and have the (way over-priced, we have come to learn) experience of getting the freshly caught and steamed lobster to take back to the boat. This time, it is late afternoon and very gray, cool, and rainy, so we will look at this as just an overnight stop and dine aboard.
Dinner was cubed chicken breast (grilled in Gloucester) mixed into jambalaya rice with fresh snow peas. It was a nice hot and spicy meal for a cool, rainy evening. Following clean-up, we tried to enjoy the ambience of the mooring field and surrounding scenery, but someone apparently needs a portable generator to cook food aboard, so the entire group of well over 100 boats has to endure the obnoxious noise pollution. I guess the only way to guarantee peace and quiet is to find a place where you can be totally alone, but that didn't work out so well last night, did it?
We will both be asleep early tonight, so I will post this early as well. Wish we had more exciting things to report.
Thu 19 Jul 2012
Anchored off Sagamore Beach, MA
[photo: Don and Sally with Diane and Diva Di in the background]
It was very still in the early morning and the humidity was quite high, yet the temperature was quite comfortable. We were in no particular rush, and Duane is learning to sleep quite late now (past 0630 sometimes), so we had a lazy morning and then got underway at 0815.
As expected, the winds was mostly from astern and not strong enough to help, but later the winds shifted from the E and that allowed us to put up the headsail. It did not add anything appreciable to our speed, but did help to stabilize the boat against the very annoying roll with ocean swell on the beam. Before we got the sail up, it was very uncomfortable for all aboard. That swell did not bode well for our hoped-for plan to anchor off the beach.
Along the way, we spied no whales, but had to dodge a huge number of lobster buoys. It is funny how you can set an autopilot course, which is pretty straight, and more often than not you will have to deviate to miss one buoy after another. Lest anyone think we are anti-lobsterman, we are not. It is similar to bicycles and cars sharing the road; depending upon what side you are on at the time, the other can appear to be a nuisance.
As we passed the tip of the cape, the easterly swells started diminishing, and once we neared Sagamore Beach, they were quite reasonable. During the last part of the run, we were close to shore and saw very steep cliffs of what looked like sand rising right off the beach. There were quite a few homes atop the cliffs. Where the cliffs were merely steep hillsides, there were equally steep stairs for access to the beach. Where they were real cliffs, there were none. We remarked that having homes atop those cliffs looked like a risky affair, and later Don confirmed that storms erode those cliffs ferociously and many homes have crashed into the beach over time.
Once we anchored in about 27 feet of water at high tide, Don launched his beach boat to come visit. It was a very nice and interesting chat about fishing and lobstering here in New England and fishing in Florida, where they live in our home town for the winter. Don and Sally have prepared a seafood feast for us tonight and all we have to do is get ashore in our dinghy. The challenge of making a beach landing should not include any significant waves, but the tidal range is over 8 feet today, so that is always an issue. With a shallow sloping beach, if you landed at high tide, you might have to carry the heavy dinghy 80 feet to the surf at low tide.
One thing about being here is that there is no harbor, no docks, and only a handful of moorings, so the boat traffic is almost negligible. All we have to endure is a few boat wakes from time to time and hope that the swell really dies down before long.
As of 1700, the swell was still keeping us rolling side to side even though you could barely see it. It must affect keel boats differently and might have to do with the "natural frequency" of our boat in that axis relative to the swell period. Anyway, we got cleaned up, launched the dinghy and headed for the beach. Getting ashore without waves soaking us was easy, but we had to await the arrival of Don and Sally to help carry the 250 pound dinghy far enough up the beach to be safe when the tide turned around at 1800.
We walked up the moderately steep hillside to their lovely home, where their once majestic view has been slowly eroded by trees and larger homes to be somewhat narrower. Nevertheless, you could see Diva Di resting at anchor, which is always comforting when you are off the boat. Cocktails were served and we had a great chat about family ties to various places, among other topics.
They had tempted us with an invitation to a Cape Cod dinner, so we started with stuffed clams, followed by sharing two whole lobsters caught in Don's pots (traps). Then we had the main course of fresh -caught flounder (by Don) in a delicious ginger/lime/almond preparation, corn on the cob, and broccoli. It was absolutely wonderful.
It didn't seem very long before it was nearing dusk, so we strolled downhill to the beach, said our goodbyes and got the dinghy back into the water. We tried to relax aboard, but the swells were still causing the boat to roll too much to be comfortable. We certainly don't want Don and Sally to feel responsible for this at all, but neither of us got any real sleep until about 0400 when the rolling finally tamed enough.
Having consulted the cruising guides and the reviews by other cruisers on ActiveCaptain, we have decided to run about 37 miles tomorrow afternoon to revisit Cuttyhunk at the southern tip of the Elizabeth Islands. We cannot leave to transit the canal until 1300 (to avoid bucking the strong current), so we will not likely get to Cuttyhunk until after 1800 (6pm). The next stop after that is Newport, RI to have time to visit with our friends, Dan and Sharon, then on to Block Island.
Wed 18 Jul 2012
On mooring in Scituate, MA
[Supplemental to Tue's log: I forgot to mention the minor excitement we had in the outer harbor coming back in. We were under sail and I spied a yellow object close aboard, which as we passed resolved itself to be a floating winch handle. I invoked my captain's privilege and called for a man overboard drill to retrieve the item. Diane wisely went below to get the fishing net, but I didn't realize she was not going to be quite ready when we sailed by it for the second time, so we had to come around once more and then she snagged it expertly. I think those winch handles are worth at least $50, if not more, and this was is in great shape. Of course, as she pulled it up, I could not help but say, "Happy anniversary, honey."]
We awoke with a little sadness knowing we would be leaving the great hospitality of Anne and Bruce and starting our trip back. Diane did most of the packing and all of the cleaning of our little temporary abode and then we joined our hosts for a nice chat on the porch. Before 0900, we said our goodbyes, loaded up and they cast us off.
It was a very nice day on the water, with enough wind to keep the headsail out most of the way to some benefit. We saw storm clouds building to the north as we passed S of Boston and were glad we did not leave much later. We arrived at Scituate before 1400 and got a mooring with the Boat Club. The launch operator remembered us just as we did him.
The major storm activity passed to the N of us, but there was another band of storms to the W that came our way. As of 1600, we had plenty of rain, only moderate winds, and lots of lightning no closer than 1 mile away. Regardless, it was good to be on a secure mooring in a very protected harbor.
Our early supper was leftover flat iron steak, potatoes and fresh snow peas with a tomato salad. As we were eating we had lightning well within a quarter mile and that is too close for comfort. It was quite pleasant sitting in the cockpit after the major part of the storm passed. Looking to the S we saw the lights and shapes of a carnival that had not been here last week.
Checking the Internet, we found it was a special carnival and we debated the options: call for the launch to the club dock and walk (way too far) to the carnival, use the launch and take our bikes, lower the dinghy and hope to find dockage near the carnival, or forget about it. We chose the last option. Instead, we got out the Rummikub game we had not played in a few months and enjoyed that.
It rained on and off through the night, which necessitated keeping the hatches closed. Fortunately, despite the high humidity, the temperature was in the low 60s and it was comfortable.
Tomorrow we hope to meet up with Don and Sally from our cruising club in Punta Gorda at Sagamore Beach, MA.
Tue 17 Jul 2012
Docked in Smith Cove, Gloucester, MA
Diane went with Anne to get all the perishable provisions for the boat and for dinner tonight, our last one here. Duane re-fastened the furler part that was not quite right, and then helped Anne and Bruce with some computer router setup issues. It is good to report that all ended well.
It was otherwise a very quiet day of relaxation, until we took out Diva Di for a nice sail in very good winds. We all enjoyed it very much.
Dinner was a first for us; we grilled teriyaki-marinated flat iron steak. We served onion-roasted potatoes and fresh corn on the cob. It all turned out very well. We sat on the porch and enjoyed the glow of the sunset and the waterfront activity until it was time for bed.
Duane had been suffering with a bout of something so went to bed extra early, but I am happy to report feeling much better as of Wed morning.